What is Arduino? Arduino is an open-source electronics platform that has an easy-to-use physical programmable circuit board and software. Today it's one of the most popular systems for building robots and smart home systems in the industry. Arduino projects for kids introduce children to a brand new world! So let's explore why building smart devices improves kids' critical thinking skills while empowering them to create simple electronic systems for alarms, home sensing, motor controls, and more.
Why use an Arduino?
Before we get to the “what,” it’s important to discuss the “why” for you and your children. We are surrounded by electronics - smartphones, computers, TVs, robots, and more. While lots of students have learned to write code, few have had the opportunity to build the physical system.
What is Arduino?
Now, on to the “what.” The Arduino is an easy to use Single Board Microcontroller. What exactly does that mean? A Single Board Microcontroller is a small device similar to a computer but a simplified version that will run programs.
Microcontrollers can be found in automobile engines, medical devices, remote controls, office equipment, home appliances, power tools, and even small toys. The Arduino allows anyone, including your children, to become familiar with the basics of electrical engineering and design, while building electronics projects that are limited only by their imagination.
After the initial introduction to a few new keywords and skills, the Arduino is an easy-to-use tool for beginners. But still flexible enough for advanced users. And there are variations on the Arduino board to allow for levels of experience.
The Arduino Uno is the most popular to use, especially for beginners just starting to build projects. Arduino is a cool tool to learn new things, and discover new passion. If you can imagine it, you can build it. It becomes as simple as plug it in, program it, and have fun.
We happen to teach a Circuit Wizards: Arduino for Kids class at Create & Learn, and our students never cease to amaze us with their ideas and creations. The class uses an Arduino simulator and does not require a physical device. However, if you prefer, Arduino can be purchased online. The same code will work on the device without any changes.
Why do students need to learn Arduino?
Arduino is widely used in the real world
The centerpiece of the Arduino Uno Board is a little chip named ATmega32. Now you might say to yourself that you have never heard of it. But the truth of it is this: it is one of the most widely used chips in the world because of its form factor. The ATmega32, and similar chips, can be found everywhere like in automobiles such as BMWs or in gaming technology like the Microsoft Xbox hand controllers. They are everywhere. Explore more uses of Arduino here.
Arduino improves coding and electronics skills
Arduino programming for kids is a great tool to learn coding and electronics because it easily connects with other open-source hardware and components. You can program the Arduino in many different ways. In the initial development of Arduino, students learned Arduino C, a written programming language sometimes difficult to learn. Nowadays, there are many choices to use, like Tinkercad block coding.
Here are a few cool student projects made with Arduino.
Arduino is affordable
Arduino and all the different components out there in the world are very affordable. This is due to the rise of the Arduino and the massive maker community. Production has caught up to supply the overwhelming need.
The low price tag that comes with learning with the Arduino has allowed the Arduino to become the standard teaching tool for designing with electronics across the globe. The community of users that teach, learn, and play with the Arduino is extremely welcoming and supportive. Resources for learning Arduino are almost endless.
Every day you can search the internet for “Arduino projects” and get a new list of exciting projects. The material and breakdown of each project are shared so anyone can try it.
The Arduino community is sometimes referred to as the “Makers” or “DIY” (Do-It-Yourself) community. The amount of support and resources they contribute to help others to learn and explore is one of the biggest reasons to learn and use Arduino, and your child will benefit from this network of innovators and learners. Check out this open-source list of project guidance from the Arduino community.
What is the Arduino used for?
Electronics as a field of study
Electronics are the result of combining and creating projects using components such as resistors, motors, and sensors. Every day you come across hundreds if not thousands of devices that use electronics to function. This is also referred to as Electrical Engineering and has become such an important pillar of today's society. Electrical engineers are people who study, plan, and design different things that use electricity.
Learning about components with Arduino
Students can learn how to create circuits, use resistors, and get introduced to Ohm's law while building a series of cool projects and experiments. They can also code Arduino to start building smart devices that can sense their environment and respond accordingly.
Here is a list of commonly used sensors and components that you and your children likely interact within your daily lives that are consistent with learning how to build projects with Arduino.
- Ultrasonic Sensor uses sonar to determine distance
- Infrared Obstacle Sensor detect objects near the sensor
- Temperature Sensor detects ambient temperature
Commonly used output components
- Servo Motor a small geared motor
- LCD Screens a screen allows you to display text
- Motors A electrical motor
Arduino - A foundation for Robotics
The Arduino is a great foundation for robotics. It can connect to and work with almost every device or component out there. From motors to motion sensors to VEX VR robotics, it's a great way for students to learn and understand and learn about inputs and outputs and how computers, robots, and mechanical devices can interact with you and the world around them.
A perfect example of an Arduino being used while building advanced robots is the openDog project by James Bruton. He combines electrical and mechanical engineering to build awesome robots, and he video documents his discoveries and what he learns while working on his projects.
Explore projects with the Arduino for kids
Are you wondering what your child can build with the Arduino? They can build something as simple as an automatic light to a fully functioning home automation system. The level of simplicity or complexity of your project with the Arduino is up to you or your child. It can be helpful to have students start small, so they can quickly learn and develop. The projects never stay small for long. Here are some fun Arduino projects for kids to get your imagination going.
So get started with Arduino and join us for Create & Learn's Arduino for kids classes, where students will build more sophisticated circuits for smart devices, code breakers, and games using Arduino. They'll also learn more advanced electronic concepts such as digital versus analog, and control servos and sensors.
Your child will also sharpen their coding skills and even tap into a bit of text-based coding to get ready for more advanced coding classes. Up next, learn more about picking the right coding class for your student.
Written by Jared Collacchi, Instructor at Create & Learn